Source: WV History Film Project
WEST VIRGINIA ROLL 150, WEST VIRGINIA ROLL 150.
Q: Just a second. Put you diaper on, please.
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 1, CAMERA 319, SOUND 150.
Q: Allan, describe for me what life was like in a
small Shawnee village along the Ohio River prior to
the arrival of the white man.
AE: The Indians living along the Ohio River had, what we would consider now, to be a rather idyllic form of life. It was a life of taking the bounty of nature and using it wisely and well. They never destroyed anything without a good reason. They never wasted any of nature's bounty. They used everything they could. They hunted. They fished. They farmed. Raised their small degree of crops. They had a life that was predicated on the seasons. They would have their hunting times, their sugar-making times, their crop times, and so on. These were all very stylized and very formalized type of things that, gave a good picture of the Indian life as it were.
Every event had a feast or a dance that was involved with it. They had their own crop of "Gods," not "Goddesses," just "Gods," who controlled nature, who controlled their lives and so on. I say no "Goddesses," but, of course, there was the Great Spirit, was a "Goddess" was the only one. The Great Spirit was a grandmother who would lower a net when the time came and lift all the good people back into the, the, as we call it, the Happy Hunting Ground. They never, really, referred to it as that.
Q: What was the Indian conception of land?
AE: The Indian believed that everybody owned the land and nobody owned it. It was a gift of Monetoe[?], the Great Spirit, or the Great God above the Great Spirit.
Q: Why don't you say that over again.
AE: OK. the Indian concept of land ownership, was not. Let's start it again. The Indians didn't realize what the concept of land ownership was. The land belonged to everyone and everyone could use it. Wisely and well. There were no such things as property lines to drive a stake into the earth would be like driving a stake into the breast of their Mother. I mean they considered the earth, the Mother. They called it Mother Earth. And, so this concept of land ownership was, was just very foreign to them. Now, they did have territory. And they would fight among themselves, the various tribes, in order to maintain their territory, and keep it free from other tribes incursioning into their areas and taking their game and so on, or the, the materials that they needed.
But, not to own the land. Not to have land as the White concept of land holding was. Thus, when the Whites came in, and suddenly were building fences, suddenly were building fences, suddenly were claiming lands, cutting down the forests, burning the prairies, destroying, almost always, destroying as they came along. This was a concept so far beyond their thinking, that it appalled them and they felt it was very, very wrong.
Q: Describe for me what the territory that we
now refer to as West Virginia, but was western
Virginia, west of the mountains. How was that used
by Indian tribes?
AE: Well, the Indians in the upper Ohio River Valley, in western Virginia, depends on how far back you go, because you have Indians, the Mound Builders, who were there many hundreds of years before our more modern Indians came along. The Mound Builders built very extensive and large mounds in the area of Moundsville, West Virginia, present West Virginia. All up and down the Ohio Valley and Ohio, itself, and they lasted for quite a long while, they were prevalent around 800 A.D. Eventually, they died out, we're not sure exactly why, and, gradually, other tribes moved into the area. They found in the upper Ohio area, a very rich hunting ground. There was a lot of game, lot of deer, bear, turkey, all sorts of animals. And, they found it a very good living.
The river, itself, was a sort of highway for them because they would trade, with the Indians to the south using the Ohio River to go down to the, what we now call the Cumberland River and the Tennessee River and going up these rivers to trade with the Cherokee and the other southern tribes. I'm. --
Q: That's OK. What I guess I'm confused
about. One thing I'm very confused about, is that
when this first explorers crested the mountain and
came into West Virginia, there were not large Indian
settlements in western Virginia.
AE: There were, actually, none at that time. Well, I won't say exactly none, because there were a few along the upper Kanawha.
AE: Simply because the area south and eastward of the Ohio River was, generally, considered by the Indians to be a hunting ground. And, it was for the use of all the tribes that surrounded it. The southern tribes would come up from the south to hunt there and, even though many of these tribes were bitter enemies, and made incursions against each other and fought vicious wars with one another, when, they were in this hunting ground, it was a neutral ground. It was where they could mingle, where they could meet, they could talk, and nobody would kill each other. And, this was a, a, not really a sacred land, but a, sort of a sacrosanct land where all the enmities between peoples were put aside. It was a place to come and hunt and camp and get the meat and eat it for the winter, and so on.
Q: Just fill that in a little bit with me with,
describe to me who the "they" were. Who was
coming from the north? Who was coming from the
AE: Alright. Among the tribes that came into this land, you had the Cherokees and the Creeks and the Choctows and the Chickasaws from the south, moving upward. From the Ohio country you had the Miamis, the Shawnees, the Wyandots, the group called the Mingos, which wasn't a tribe, it was a confederation of disenfranchised Iroquois tribesmen. These people all came into this area of Kentucky and western Virginia to do their hunting because it was such fruitful hunting ground. And, thus, when the Whites moved in and began blandly slaughtering the game, often for no good purpose other than for the sport of shooting, this was another adjunct of the white character that the Indians, simply, couldn't fathom. They would see Whites come in, for example, and go down around the Blue Licks in Kentucky and there were great herds of woodland buffalo at that time, woodland bison.
They would come in and they would kill seventy or eighty or ninety, maybe a hundred buffalo at one time and take nothing but the tongues. And, leave the rest just to rot out in the fields. The Indian couldn't understand this concept of wastefulness.
Q: How did it come to be that the Iroquois
started laying claim to, and making deals, about West
AE: Well, the Iroquois pulled a great hoax on the English. The English wanted to believe that the Indians owned land. They couldn't grasp the fact that the land wasn't owned, that it was everybody's land. And so, they needed, for their own consciousness, for their own sense of honor, supposedly, to have an owner of the land so that they could purchase, or take, this land from its rightful owner. They convinced the Iroquois League to claim all this land by right of conquest. Well, the Iroquois were very strong fighters and so on, but they never conquered the Shawnee and they never conquered a number of other tribes. But, they made everybody think they had. And, so they claimed the whole Ohio River drainage as their territory by right of conquest.
And, so then when they went to treaties with the whites, the English, primarily, the whites said, "Well, we want to buy some of your land." And, they said, "Sure, we'll sell you whatever you want." It wasn't their land, anyway. So, they would sell them these great tracks of land, Virginia, for example, the English in Virginia, extended their realm through these contacts with the Iroquois all the way to the Mississippi. Virginia ran from the east coast of the Mississippi River. And, it was a vast tract of land. This was, allegedly, sold to them by, or gotten through treaty, by the Iroquois. They had no right to sell it any more than an Indian boy would have the right to sell his father's horse to another Indian. It wasn't his to sell. It wasn't his belonging. But, this is what caused all the great problems which came later, because, then, having made this purchase, the whites claimed it and said, "Hey, we bought it fair and square and it's ours." So, this is where the wars began.
Q: In 1749 the French Expedition comes down
the Ohio. Tell me about that expedition and why it
AE: Celoron de Blainville came down the Ohio, a lot of people say Bienville, but it's Blainville, came down the Ohio River with the avowed purpose from the governor general of, of Canada at that time, to re-instate the French claims to the Ohio River Valley and all lands to the north and west of it. they had staked out these lands many, many years earlier with the advent of their early French settlers and the Jesuits who came after them. But, with the English beginning to spill over the mountains to the east, they decided they had better really re-establish these claims and so the sent Celoron de Blainville down with a number of lead plaques that were engraved.
Q: Excuse me. We have to pick that up on our next camera roll. That was ten minutes. We are out of film.
151, WEST VIRGINIA ROLL 151.
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 2, CAMERA 320, SOUND 151.
Q: Allan, excuse me. Describe to me Celoron
his lead plaques.
AE: Right. So Celoron was dispatched to come into this county and reaffirm these boundaries of French conquest or French habitation. And, he came down, well, he started in Montreal, and came up the Great Lakes to Lake Erie and then across Lake Chitauqua to the Allegheny River. And, starting down the Allegheny River, at every major stream, he planted lead plates, which had been engraved and they said that this, in essence, was the property of the King of France and that nobody else had a right here and they were here to protect the Indians and so on. And, they planted such plates at the, the mouth of the various streams. They did not plant one, for some reason, at probably the greatest confluence of all right where the Ohio River starts at the Monongahela and the Allegheny confluence. But, they planted them at the mouth of Wheeling Creek and they planted them at the mouth of Grave Creek and at the Little Kanawha and the Great Kanawha, the Muskingam, the Great Miami.
Some of these plates were found, scores of years later, by children who were out playing along the river banks and found them. So, on one, in fact, that was planted at the mouth of the Kanawha, was found by some children who thought of it only as a chunk of lead and had melted down about half of it before an historian realized what it was and rescued the remainder of it. But, he came all the way down the Ohio River from the upper Allegheny to the Great Miami River and then up the Great Miami River to its headwaters, over portage to the Ahglaze?? River and down that river to the Maumee and then to the Lake Erie and finally up to Detroit encompassing this whole great area that is largely the state of Ohio, at this point. And, reclaiming this land for French interests.
Well, this greatly bothered the English because their territory was by charter from the English King went all the way to the Mississippi and so, the battlegrounds were formed. This was, really in essence, kind of a declaration of war between the French and the British over the territory in what is now the United States.
Q: Describe for me how the French were
concerned about fur trading and how the English had
other concerns, in addition to that.
AE: There was a great difference in the Indian's mind between the Frenchmen and the Englishmen. The Frenchmen, they liked, they liked them very much because they came in, they didn't try to change the Indian ways, they didn't try to mold them. They assimilated into the Indian tribes. Often, they married Indian women and had children with them. Became part of their culture, lived with that culture and enjoyed it. So, they liked the French very much, but when the British, the English, came they had weaponry that was much better. They had tools that were much better. They had all sorts of things, manufactured items that were much better. And, the Indians having now become more or less dependent in their social life and their economy and their culture depended upon these goods, went to the ones that could provide them the most and the best and the cheapest.
So, the wars, in the beginning, were trade wars for the benefit of furs. That's what brought the French in to begin with was not, it was exploration sure, but the impetus for that exploration was here was a land that was ripe with these most marvelous furs, especially the beaver. And, the beaver became the real item of economy for the Indians, because this, they could get beaver all over and they could trade these for all these wonderful things that the whites had that they needed. So, the beaver trade was very important for many years. Later, much later, was when the land wars began and that was mostly from the English and British side because they were more interested in acquiring land, per se, land that was theirs rather than furs.
Q: Describe to me this first wave of white men
coming over the mountains, English explorers and
surveyors, some working for large land companies
like the Ohio River. Who were these men and what
was their mission?
AE: The, the Proclamation of 1763, more or less, prevented, the whites from crossing the Allegheny Rivers, the Kings, or the Allegheny Mountains. The King said, "You will not go behind the Appalachians, you will not go beyond this point," the crest of the Appalachians is the boundary line between the western lands and, the English lands. Well, the Treaty of Fort Stanwix came along and that, more or less, wiped it out and left all these lands, that had been open only to traders in the past, now open for settlement. And, there was a tremendous land rush started. People who were skimping out on an income on a little plot of land in the east, suddenly, saw these great vistas of land open to them, if they would just go there and claim it. And, so they came, in droves, they spilled over the mountains and rushed into these lands and began claiming them as their own and it was no difficulty, you just simple marked some trees with a tomahawk at the four corners of your land, and that was then, your land.
There were many who wanted to mass fortunes in this land as they knew it would be very valuable in time to come. George Washington was one, in particular, who wanted to claim a good bit and he came down the Ohio River several times, but, mostly, he sent agents in. He would hire people, people like Cresap and Crawford, William Crawford, and, these people would come in as his agents, stake out lands and survey and claim these lands for him and would do this for a wage. There were, also, huge land companies that formed. The Ohio Company, the Virginia Company, the Illinois Company, they came in and they began collecting these great bounties of lands and establishing their settlements and their rights to these lands. Also, by use of surveying teams, people, teams led by, by people like Doctor Briscoe and Hancock Lee and so on, many others who were experienced surveyors and would come down and see where the really good land was. And, of course, the best land was the bottom lands where you could grow good crops and you did not have to fight the hills to drag your plows through it and so on. And, these lands went very quickly.
And, so, just as quickly, this, this impetus for land ownership moved down the Ohio River and, especially, into the Kentucky country. Now, this Kentucky country, as we know, was a very sacred hunting ground to the Indians. So, when the whites moved in and found this beautiful, fertile land, fairly level, that was just wonderful, fairly treeless in some areas which was a great boon, too, and filled with game. The rushed down like crazy and began claiming it all over and the Indians, of course, strongly objected to this and this is the beginning of the Indian Wars.
Q: What was, describe what it must have been
like for a family to move over into Appalachia and
settle along say, the Little Kanawha River and set-up
a homestead, with the threats of Indian warfare and
AE: In this time.
Q: Hold it just a second. We'll let this truck go
AE: In this day in age, I think we find it, probably, a little difficult to understand the enormity of the move that these people were making. They were leaving a civilized culture in the east and moving into a wilderness, a hidden land, a land that was really frothed with all kinds of dangers and unexpected happenings. This was a land populated by, what they called, savages because these were a people who were savage in defending what they felt was their own. They came in and they built rude cabins, with very rude tools. Sometimes, the cabins were only ten feet square or fifteen or twenty feet square. Just enough to house people and keep them relatively safe and relatively warm. They existed with the, the very barest of necessities and it was a very hard, rough and difficult life for them.
But, going back again to the lands, they wanted lands and they were willing to take almost any kind of risk. Almost, any kind of hazard, almost any kind of difficulty, simply to get those lands.
Q: This may be an unfair question. William
Preston has a register from 1755 where he is
recording the number of deaths due to Indian raids
and many of those descriptions on a particular day, a
AE: Oh yea, absolutely, absolutely. The, when the wars broke out in earnest, when the Indians decided that they really had to fight the whites to keep them out. Heretofore, they had tried through treaty, to keep them back, they had made all kinds of agreements and they were always broken and, almost, always by the whites. When they finally decided they had to fight, they fought with fantastic brutality and savagery. They would spread out in small war parties, usually anywhere from six to twenty or thirty warriors, rushing through the land like a little red tide engulfing any settler, especially the isolated settlers, who had no defense except their own weapons, their own flintlock rifles or whatever they had. And, wiping out whole families. They would come in and there would be a family, maybe of a husband.
Q: Pause. We're out of film.
Q: Good. We'll pick it up "when they would wipe out whole families."
WEST VIRGINIA, ROLL 151, WEST
VIRGINIA, ROLL, SCRATCH THAT. WEST
VIRGINIA ROLL 152, WEST VIRGINIA ROLL
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 3, ROLL 321, SOUND 152.
Q: Allan, pick-up that train of thought about the
AE: The, we often hear of the terrible atrocities that the Indians committed, the barbarities, and so on. There were many of them. The Indians were savage fighters. They were strong, they were ruthless. But, in the research I've done, I have found that in the vast preponderance of cases, almost every major massacre the Indians committed was in direct retaliation for a massacre that had been done by the whites, that we haven't heard that much about. One good case in point is the Gnadenhutten Massacre, when the whites came in under Colonel David Williamson and went to the Moravian villages on the Muskingam River and took a bunch of peaceful Delaware Christianized Indians, Moravian Indians, herded them into a Church and bludgeoned them to death with a mallet. Ninety-six people in a row. Men, women, children, they didn't care. They just killed them.
Well, this sparked great fury among the other tribes and, was part of the continuing war. And, then we heard of the death of Colonel Crawford, at the stake, well, this was in direct retaliation to the Gnadenhutten Massacre. And, even when small families were massacred, this was often in retaliation for white parties that had gone into the Ohio lands and destroyed Indian families in the same manner.
Q: What was the spiritual significance of, or
cause behind "scalping?"
AE: Well, actually, scalping, while it was done to a certain extent, in this country, it did not come into vogue until the Hessians came over with the Revolutionary War. And, the Hessians took scalps, that was part of their heritage. And, so it was a trophy of war, it was a way of showing that they had vested their enemy, and so on. And, it came into very great vogue then, especially, when during the Revolutionary War the British began paying a bounty to the Indians for the American scalps that they collected.
Q: Describe to me the sense, on the part of the
Indians, of the overwhelming numbers of whites as
AE: The Indians often said that they would, the ones who were old and wise and knew the way things were going, said that there was no way to defeat the whites because the whites were like the leaves on the tree, numberless. They were like the grass beneath their feet, that, even when cut down, would spring back up with more and more than there were before. They were like the worm, which when cut in half, would make not one dead worm, but two new worms. There was no way for the Indians to match in numbers, these numbers of whites that were coming at them, nor the weaponry that the whites possessed. So, it was a, a holding battle, at first, to try and hold the territory in which they lived. And, when, gradually, they couldn't hold it, to move back, fighting as they went step by step, and gradually being forced off their lands. And, the land was the important thing to be taken by treaty or by treachery or by theft or by warfare, it didn't matter how, get the land.
Q: Describe, tell me the Indian saying about
when an Indian dies.
AE: The Indians often said that when an Indian died it was a great tragedy, a great loss to the people that caused a sorrow in their heart, simply because, an Indian was irreplaceable to them. Their birth rate was not very great, and when an Indian was lost, it left a gap in their people. But, when a white was killed or shot, four or five or six others stepped up to take his place and their numbers were limitless.
Q: OK. Describe an event, an atrocity, describe
what happened to the family of Logan, briefly, and
what impact that had on Logan, who was one of those
who was seeking to broker a peace.
AE: We have here a case where, where the whites are flooding into this wide-open territory to take the land. And, you had a lot of border-ruffian type of people here at that time who hated the Indians because they were in their way and wanted them out of their way. And, one of the major ones, was the Greathouse family, Daniel and Jacob Greathouse, especially, who were large, uncouth, frontier-type people. And, Greathouse, at the break-out of Dunmore's War, actually caused the, Let's start that over. Jacob Greathouse was a great Indian hater. And, as the whites began coming down the river, sorry.
Q: We can stop, or we can.
AE: Stop for just a minute. Let me get my thought in order here. Yea, I want.
AE: Many Indians were proponents of peace. They did not want war with the whites, because they saw no future in it. One of the great proponents of peace was the Seneca Indian, or the Cauga Indian, rather, named Logan who was named after a white man. He had an Indian name but he was more familiar to the whites as Logan. He and his family lived near the mouth of Yellow Creek which is near Wellsburg, West Virginia, now. And, at one point, his family was lured to the Ohio side, or to the Virginia side of the river, or the western Virginia side of the river by a family called Greathouse. And, engaged in a sporting competition and as soon as their guns were empty, the Greathouse party fell on them and, terribly, massacred them.
Shot all the men, bludgeoned and stabbed and otherwise desecrated the women, disemboweled them, hung them from trees; one was a pregnant woman, they cut her unborn baby out and, even scalped this little baby. So, it was just a terrible thing. We hear so much about the atrocities of the Indians, but the atrocities some of the whites did were just, almost, beyond belief.
Q: What impact did it have on both the, on
Logan himself and those who were seeking to make
AE: When this happened, this great proponent of peace, Logan, decided that, that, he, these were people that he just couldn't have peace with. And, so here after all these years of advocating peace with the whites, welcoming them.
Q: Start again.
AE: After all these years of welcoming the whites into his villages, into his home, feeding them, clothing them, now he was suddenly their enemy and he swore a terrible revenge that he was going to kill ten men for every one of his relatives that had been killed in that attack by Greathouse. And, he fulfilled that promise. This was the outbreak of Dunmore's War. Bands of the Mingos, of which Logan was a member, the Shawnees, the Wyandots came streaming across the Ohio River and attacking the isolated settlements. And, this culminated, finally, in the Battle of Point Pleasant at the mouth of the Great Kanawha River when the forces, under Lewis, were attacked by the, primarily, the Shawnees, but with some of the Wyandots and Delawares and Miamis. And, we often hear of it as being a great American victory, but it really wasn't.
There was no real victor for the day. The losses were slightly higher for the whites than they were for the Indians; and the Indians withdrew, simply because they heard that re-enforcements were coming and, but, to show that he was never turning his back on the white man and running in fear, Cornstalk walked backward, all the way from the battle lines to where his canoe was and then stood, facing backward as the canoe was rowed back across the Ohio River.
Q: Let's go into that in some depth. Let, set up
for me the main characters. Describe who Cornstalk
was and what his participation in the border conflict
AE: Cornstalk was the principal chief of the Shawnees at this time. His name was Holkaleskwa?? his Indian name, and he had a large sister, a powerful woman, called the Grenadier Squaw.
Q: Sorry. Battery.
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 5.
Q: Allan, who was Cornstalk?
AE: Cornstalk, or Holkaleskwa??, his real name, was a giant of men among the Shawnees. He had been a great warrior. He became, within the tribe, a great political figure, a great leader of people. He was a member of the Peace Clan of the Shawnees and, yet, he still was a great fighter. He was able to, to bring together other tribes under his banner to fight the whites when it became necessary. In every respect, he was truly a great Indian leader.
Q: What was his response to the massacre of
AE: The massacre of Logan's family, more or less, united almost all the tribes that were in the Ohio country at that time, including the Shawnees. This was to their benefit, at that time, because they had been more or less fighting the whites on their own. The other tribes were more removed from the Ohio River and, as such, they were not so immediately threatened as the Shawnees were. So, the Shawnees had asked for help, but were not getting very much of it. The attack on Logan's family, which precipitated Dunmore's War, drew the tribes together under his banner. And this was done deliberately by the other tribes, so that if they lost, the blame would go to the Shawnees and not to themselves.
Q: Good. OK. Cut. Sound.
WEST VIRGINIA, ROLL 153. WEST
VIRGINIA, ROLL 153. 153.
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 6, CAMERA 322, SOUND 153.
Q: Stop. Hold it. Hold it.
TAKE 6, SECOND STICKS.
Q: Describe how the governor of West Virginia
decided to take the war to the Indians. Just a second.
AE: When the fighting broke out in earnest, Governor Dunmore of Virginia decided that it was time to make a punitive raid against the Indians and he established a rather substantial army that was to attack in two wings. He would lead the northern wing, which would come down from Fort Pitt to the mouth of the Great Kanawha River to rendezvous with the southern wing of the army, under General Andrew Lewis, which was coming down the Kanawha from the, from Camp Union in the Greenbrier Valley, who would rendezvous at the mouth of the Great Kanawha with Dunmore. And, at that point they would then join forces and march on the Siota towns of the Shawnees. Well, as it turned out, Dunmore changed his plans in mid-stride and, instead of going to the rendezvous, he descended the Ohio River a little distance and went up the Hocking River. In the meantime, Andrew Lewis with his army came down the Kanawha and found no one waiting for him at the rendezvous point, at Point Pleasant. So, he camped there, waiting.
The Indians were aware he was there and under Holkaleskwa??, this force of almost a thousand Indians came to attack. In the midst of the night, they crossed the Ohio River about three miles above Andrew Lewis' camp. Now, this was on a kind of a point of land, a triangular point of land, where Andrew Lewis had made his camp. And, during this very dark night, a thousand Indians crossed the Ohio River and spread themselves across the bottom of this triangle, forming the base of the triangle with Lewis having no where to go. They remained there, planning their attack for dawn. Just before dawn, the woods began filling up with a fog rising from the Ohio River and soon visibility was almost non-existent. Andrew Lewis was preparing to cross the Ohio River that day, not going to wait any longer for Dunmore and he had given orders that no one was to leave the camp.
But, two men went out to hunt turkey, early in the morning and they got about a mile away from the main camp ground and the fog parted, momentarily, and suddenly, here they saw before them, not turkeys, but a vast line of Indians stretching all the way from the Ohio River across this base of the triangle all the way to the Kanawha River, completely blocking off, thousands, it seemed to them, thousands of Indians. Actually, just one thousand, but enough. One of the men was shot, the survivor ran back and alerted the camp and the battle began. This was a very terrible battle, very closely fought because of the fog. The Indians had planned on firing from a distance as soon as the light was good enough, but when the light became good enough, the fog was there and they couldn't. So, it became more or less a hand-to-hand battle from the dawning of day until mid-afternoon and was very fierce and very tough and a terrible fight.
There were many good leaders, white and Indian both, that were killed during that fight. Pucksinwha??, the father of Tecumseh and Chicksicwha?? was one of those who was killed, as was General Andrew Lewis' brother, Colonel Charles Lewis. No one really won this fight. The whites claimed they had because, in the end, the Indians withdrew. But, this was only because Holkaleswka?? had been informed that a re-enforcement was coming down the Kanawha to re-enforce the white army. And, so they backed off, but Holkaleswka?? was a very proud man and he was not going to have it ever be said that he had turned his back on an enemy. And, so as he vacated the battlefield, he walked backward, all the way, the mile to where his canoe was wedged, got in the canoe and then stood in it, facing backward, while it was paddled across the river.
After this, Lewis then crossed the river and rendezvoused with, after this. Let me start again. After the battle was fought the next day, the dead were buried and then Andrew Lewis crossed the river and went to meet and rendezvous with General Dunmore at the Pickaway Plains, near the Shawnee villages. He was intent on fighting to retaliate for the losses he had suffered at the Battle of Point Pleasant, but, by this time, Dunmore was having peace talks at his Camp Charlotte with the Indians and made Andrew Lewis back off. And, the treaty, the so-called treaty, of Camp Charlotte was effected and with that, the war essentially ended.
Q: I just want to pick-up a couple of other
details. There's a description from one of Lewis' men
of Cornstalk riding or running back and forth behind
his troops shouting above the dead?? and the other
graphic description is of the Indians pulling their own
dead off the field, pulling them into the Ohio or, as
one wife said, scalping them so that we could not take
their scalp. Tell me about some of these details.
AE: That I'm not really sure about because I think that is.
Q: What about Cornstalk's voice?
AE: Yes, Cornstalk had a --
Q: What about his presence during ?? (clearing
throat and could not hear the rest of question).
AE: OK. Whenever you're ready. Alright. During the battle, Cornstalk was very prominent, among his men right in the very front lines. He was running back and forth. He had a very deep and Centurion voice that could be heard great distances and he kept yelling "fight on, fight on," and every few steps he would repeat this and then he would engage the enemy himself, and then continue to yell "fight on, fight on," to his men. A constant presence, constantly egging them on into this battle.
Q: How did the Virginians fare? Did they fight
well under the circumstances?
AE: Under the circumstances, considering that they were pretty much taken by surprise, the Virginians fought very well in the Battle of Point Pleasant. They would have made a better showing for themselves had Andrew Lewis taken the precautions of building a fortification while he waited ten days for Dunmore to show up. But, he never really did. And, so this was done during the course of the battle, that breastworks were thrown up, trees were chopped down, to give them a barrier behind which to fight. Lewis was a good general, except for that one failing that he had in making his lines properly. But, he sent out bands of his men in different waves to try and force the Indians back. And, all through the day was a see-saw type of battle. The whites would force the Indians back a bit, and then the Indians would force the whites back a bit. And, of course, as the Indians forced the whites back that they were confined to a closer and closer area because they were going to the apex of a triangle. So, it was a very tricky situation. And, one has to hand it to the whites for holding out as they did under such circumstances.
Q: What was the impact of Dunmore's
AE: The impact of Dunmore's War was that, for a while, there was a sort of a quasi peace in the Ohio Valley. For the Indians, this meant that the whites would stay back, they would not penetrate further into the Indian territory. The whites, or the Indians themselves promised that they would stay north of the Ohio River, but the whites kept coming in, wanting more and more land, going into the Kentucky lands and setting themselves up there. Well, after four years of this so-called peace, Cornstalk suddenly realized that he could no longer hold his young men in check because they were being killed, if they showed themselves near the Ohio River.
They would be shot on the shoreline, sometimes, just for sport and he could no longer hold them back from counter-attacking so he went to Fort Randolph, which was then at Point Pleasant and presented himself and said "I just came here to give you a warning, as a honorable man, that we will no longer hold the peace because the whites have broken and now we're going to break it." As a reward for this generosity of his in coming to warn the whites, he was taken prisoner and put into a cell with his son and another sub-chief and; an hour or so later a mob of whites stormed this jail cell and shot him down, all three of them. And, of course, then this ignited a real fire of rage among the Shawnees and the war burst into absolute fire at that point; and from that time on, for the next eighteen years, we had terrible Indian wars along the Ohio River.
Q: You OK? What impact did the
Revolutionary War, the turning of Virginia into,
colonists against the British, have on the warfare with
AE: Probably the greatest impact, the greatest change that came with the American Revolution was the fact that prior to this point, the need for, for going into the hinter land of America was to get furs because this was the big economic impulse, impetus. The, get my thoughts straight here a minute. Once the break occurred, however, between the Americans.
Q: We just ran out of film.
Q: You can get your thoughts.
WEST VIRGINIA ROLL 154. WEST
VIRGINIA ROLL 154.
ECKERT INTERVIEW, TAKE 7, CAMERA 323, SOUND 154.
Q: Pick-up that train of thought.
AE: The Dunmore War was, was really a one-battle war and when it ended, it, it changed the whole aspect of the American frontier. Up until this point, the whites had been coming into this great interior land for the purpose of getting furs for trading with the Indians for furs. Now that it changed, now all of the sudden, this land was open to development, open to claiming. And so, no longer were furs the big impetus, the big impetus became claiming and holding land that the Indians lived upon. Well, the Indians didn't take very kindly to this, of course, and the wars increased and grew hotter and hotter; and you had bands of whites going into the Indian country and killing the Indians where they lived and retaliation of the same sort by the Indians coming across the Ohio River against the whites. There were a number of, of rather incredible Indian fighters among the whites.
Samuel Brady was a very good one, who established the Brady Rangers, who patrolled up and down the Ohio River and made expeditions into the Ohio country to fight the Indians and to spy upon them. This was very hazardous undertaking. They would go as far, sometimes, as upper Sandusky, which was a long way away from, from the Ohio River. Just to spy on what the Indians were doing. How much help they were getting from the British and so on. And, the British were, were promulgating this series of attacks by the Indians against the Americans because they saw a great threat here. They were going to lose this continent to the Americans if they weren't careful. So, they began, offering a bounty on American scalps and so on to inspire the Indians to get more and more and be more and more savage in their attacks.
There were some of the whites who were, were so bitterly Indian-haters that it didn't make any difference to them whether the Indians were friendly Indians or not, they just killed them where ever they found them. One of these was Lewis Wetzel, of the very large Wetzel family, who was such an Indian-hater that in his life span, he is estimated to have killed over a hundred Indians, usually, in hand-to-hand or very close combat. He was one of the few men who could, while running at full tilt, reload a flint-lock rifle and turn and shoot the person who was chasing him. Well, he killed many Indians this way because they did't think it could be done. It was a very difficult undertaking and he practiced it a great deal; but he would shoot, he would creep up on an Indian camp, sometimes with five or six Indians in the camp, and shoot one of them.
Well, the Indians knew, at that point, that his gun was empty and so they would begin to chase him and he would run and reload as he ran and then stop and fire and kill another. And, then run again, with more chasing him, and he kill as many, sometimes as many as three or four Indians in a row in this respect.
Q: I just want to ask you a question about Betty
Zane. Before, you do, just take a big hump in your
chest. We're getting a little bit of hits on that.
AE: OK. Sorry about that.
Q: No, it's just developed. Describe to me how
women came to start to participate in the war.
AE: Are we ready?
Q: Yes. Just a second. Ready? OK.
AE: Very often we think of the frontier woman as being a person who took care of the hearth and home and when troubles developed, when the cabins, excuse me, when troubles developed, when the cabins were attacked by Indians and so on, that they were there to dutifully load the guns and to feed the men who were doing the fighting and so on. This is not entirely true. Many of the women were very, very powerful fighters themselves. They could handle weapons, they could take their posts at the port holes and shoot the attacking ports of Indians. there was a great deal of heroism involved with the women on the frontier.
One case in particular, of course, is the case of Betty Zane in Wheeling. When Wheeling was under it's first siege in, the first of September, 1777, part of the people of the defenders of Wheeling were in the fort that was there at the time, the rest were in Zane's house which was about sixty yards away. Well, those in Zane's house which included Betty Wheeling, or Betty, which included Betty Zane. Those in the house which included Betty Zane, were running out of gun powder and the only other source was at the fort. Well, it was sixty yards of "no man's land," because the Indians had, were within full range of fire of that gap of land. And, Betty Zane volunteered to go and get the powder as she said "your lives are more important than mine, and maybe they won't shoot because I'm a woman." So, she gathered up her skirts and took a running start and hit the ground going as fast as she could and the Indians yelled out "a squaw, a squaw," and didn't shoot.
She got to the fort, okay, and had no kind of a container, or anything else, to carry the powder in, so she gathered up the folds of her apron and they poured a keg of gun powder into her apron and then she ran back. And, by this time the Indians were waiting. And, they started firing at her and spurts of ground flew up all around her as she ran, but she managed to get back with the gun powder and save the day. So, the women really played a very important part. They weren't just all docile homebodies.
Q: Tell me how this fascinating chapter in
American History and this chapter, for our purposes,
in western Virginia drew to a close.
AE: Eventually, of course, all this came to an end because of, of two powerful factors. One, the Americans had greater and better weaponry and they had greater and better numbers. And, neither of these factors could the Indians combat forever. Attrition took its toll. The Indians were being killed off. They had less and less. This is one of the reasons why the Indians kept capturing, young people, especially, among the whites, young boys, young girls, to repopulate their own numbers. To adopt them into the tribes and repopulate themselves. Well, it worked for awhile, but it didn't work that well for that long. As a result, as more and more and more whites came into this great Ohio Valley, the Indians were gradually forced back. And, the war moved away from the Ohio Valley and up into the upper Ohio portion and, finally, up into the Great Lakes area. And, for all intents and purposes, the war between the Indians and the whites, in the upper Ohio Valley, ended about 19, 1795.
Q: Would you say that last sentence, again?
AE: Yea. For all intents and purposes then, the war in the upper Ohio Valley ended, roughly, about 1795.
Q: What's the lesson in this?
AE: I think, going back in retrospect, people say "well, if the Indians had had better weaponry, if they had had more men and so on, could they have won?" Chances are, they couldn't have because this was a, a ball that had begun rolling and was rolling under it's own momentum and it just, simply, couldn't be stopped. It could have been stalled for awhile, it could have been halted for awhile, Tecumseh's gathering of the tribes together, early in the 1800's, had a chance to do so. He gathered together some fifty thousand men who could have forced the whites back, beyond the Allegheny and Appalachian chain. But, it would have only been a stop-gap measure because the whites were so well armed, they were so well provided for, so well supplied, had so many men, that it would have started again and come back. So, it was, it was fate. The time had come for the Indian Epic to end, east of the Mississippi.
Q: It was at a lost line. Would you say it
AE: OK. So, it was fate that this should end; the time had come for the, the whites to gain supremacy on the east of the Mississippi.
Q: What's the tragedy in all this?
AE: The tragedy in all this I think is, is that, we lost a great culture in the Indian culture. It never regained itself to what it was before the advent of the whites, nor will it ever. Even, I think, should the country revert to the Indians. It couldn't happen because they have become too dependent upon white men and white ways. This in itself is a great tragedy. Another great tragedy, is the manner we are experiencing still these days, in the way we treat our environment. The way we treat our natural resources. The wastefulness. The destructiveness. We continue to do so, and I don't think we are ever going to learn that lesson.
Q: Cut. and HOLD THE ROOM TONE. 30
SECONDS OF QUIET, PLEASE.
THIS IS PRESENCE FOR ALLAN ECKERT INTERVIEW.
THAT'S IT. TAIL OUT.
AE: Of course, just when you want. Whenever
this is available. Is there a possibility I can get a
Q: Absolutely. Absolutely. We'll definitely send you.
BLANK TO END OF TAPE.
AE: The tragedy in